Suddenbreakingnews at Churchill Downs (Photo by Holly M. Smith Photography used with permission)
Classic winners and G1 distance goers line the pedigree of Suddenbreakingnews, so it makes sense that the bay gelding would be off to the starting gate at Churchill. A horse who has been training fabulously under the twin spires, he’s not the flashiest-looking closer, but he’s one of the most consistent ones and a horse who looks to get better with more distance.
- G3 winner in the Southwest Stakes at 1 1/16 miles
- G1-placed in the Arkansas Derby at 9 furlongs
- Sire: Mineshaft (A.P. Indy)
- Dam: Uchitel (Afleet Alex)
- Trainer: Donnie Von Hemel (Clever Trevor, Alternation, Caleb’s Posse)
- Jockey: Luis Quinonez
- Owned by: Samuel Henderson
- Record: 8:3-4-0
- Earnings: $670,032
- Best speed figures: 94 Beyer, 99 BRIS Figure, 108 Equibase
Background: It’s been over twenty-five years since Donnie Von Hemel last brought a horse to the Kentucky Derby, his first and only contender being Clever Trevor, a horse who was also runner-up in the Arkansas Derby (I) much like his current contender. Von Hemel, a consistently top trainer in the midwestern races has experienced past successes with Caleb’s Posse, who won the King’s Bishop Stakes (I) as well as the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (I) as well as multiple graded stakes winners Alternation and Mariah’s Storm. Suddenbreakingnews will be the lone gelding in this year’s race, and will hopefully do better than Clever Trevor’s 13th in the big race.
Prep Schedule: Suddenbreakingnews has a solid racing foundation, with 5 of his 8 starts coming as a two-year-old racing at Remington Park where he never finished worse than second.
His debut came on turf at Remington going 7 furlongs in late August, a race he won but was disqualified to second. Next out, he switched to dirt and winning by 4 lengths towards the lead– the only time he would run close to the pace. He just missed the win in his next start in an allowance race the following month, then fittingly enough, won the Clever Trevor Stakes next out before just missing the win in the Springboard Mile won by Discreetness.
Shipping to Oaklawn for his three-year-old season, Suddenbreakingnews made headlines going from last to first in the Southwest Stakes (III) by 2 3/4 lengths over Whitmore. In March, he was steadied in traffic to finish a career-worst fifth in the Rebel Stakes (II) before running second in the Arkansas Derby (I), running widest of all in the stretch to miss by a length.
Pedigree: Distance-loving performance horses line the family tree of Suddenbreakingnews, who is line-bred to Hoist the Flag and Mr. Prospector
Sire Mineshaft (A.P. Indy) was the 2003 Horse of the Year following his wins in the G1 Suburban, Woodward, Jockey Club Gold Cup, and Pimlico Special. As a stallion, he has had some modest success with graded winners It’s Tricky, Effinex, Nehro, and Nate’s Mineshaft. His dam Prospectors Delite (Mr. Prospector) won the Ashland Stakes (I) and was Broodmare of the Year in 2003, with additional progeny Tomisues Delight winning multiple Grade 1 races and two additional stakes winners– all full siblings to Mineshaft. Tomisues Delight also produced a G1 winner with Mr. Sidney (Storm Cat) who won the Maker’s Mile.
Suddenbreakingnews is the second foal to race from Uchitel, a daughter of dual classic winner Afleet Alex (Northern Afleet). Her dam Party Cited (Alleged) was a G1 winner in England at 2.
Estimated TrueNicks Rating: A++ Variant 34.29
Dosage Index: 4.20
Running Style: Closing
Pros: A very consistent performer with a 8:3-4-0 record, Suddenbreakingnews has won closing in on good-sized fields including the 14-horse Southwest Stakes and has run well on fast, good, sloppy surfaces. Unlike many horses, he does not come pre-packaged with excuses and should blossom with more distance.
Cons: Lots of closers this year for SBN to compete against, meaning more traffic and a possible wide trip again.
Final Word: Compared side-by-side with other contenders, Suddenbreakingnews is no flashier than any other closer and does not impress that much on paper. However, he looks to be improving and has a strong two-year-old foundation to compliment his recent excellent effort in the Arkansas Derby (I), a race he could have won had he gotten a shorter trip and almost surely if it was a little longer. Most importantly, he appears to handle everything in stride and has been blossoming since arriving at Churchill. While I give a lot of horses in the Derby Dozen a fighting chance to at least hit the board, Suddenbreakingnews is one I am definitely not leaving out and is a live longshot to possibly win.